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Roundup Withdrawn for Residential Uses in 2023

Mary Wilson

Pollinator Pathway Steering Committee

Protect Our Pollinators founding member

Bayer (Monsanto) recently announced that it will withdraw Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) from the U.S. market for residential usage beginning in 2023.

While this is hailed as a step in the right direction, it is important to know that this move comes only after significant and costly lawsuits from individuals who have claimed (decisions have been upheld by the Supreme Court) to have been harmed by this noxious weed killer. In fact, Bayer said that “this move is being made exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns.” And it should be noted that the EPA has continued to uphold the registration of Roundup despite scientific evidence that shows it to be a probable carcinogen as well being a contaminant in our food supply and waterways.

This leaves us with several questions and concerns:

1) Other uses not covered by this new policy include golf courses (both private and municipal) and all other state and municipal properties, as well as agricultural uses.

2) While Roundup by name is being withdrawn, Bayer has other products which contain glyphosate, e.g. Rodeo. The fate of this product is unclear.

3) There is still the issue of inerts in any possible new formulations. As we know, an unnamed inert ingredient in Roundup has shown to be toxic to bumblebees. Since companies are not required to list inerts by name, we can imagine this “secret” chemical showing up in any new formulations.

4) The biggest user of Roundup is agriculture which will still be allowed to spread glyphosate on crops (mostly genetically engineered) like corn, soybeans, and cotton.

5) Significant risks still exist for farm workers who handle glyphosate and for anyone who eats food that is grown by our chemical-intensive agriculture system.

So what are the take-home messages from this announcement?

a) We cannot expect the federal government to protect the safety and health of the public from harmful pesticides. EPA does not take a precautionary or preventative stance, instead, it waits for a bad outcome before modifying any regulations. We cannot assume that if something is approved, it must be “okay”.

b) The courts have usually ruled in favor of the public, but it is a long and arduous process to prove a pesticide is harmful. Although this route may be indicated, it is unfortunate that we should have to target one noxious chemical after another.

c) A more effective approach would be to eliminate pre-emption (the government’s right to restrict municipalities from enforcing more stringent limitations on pesticides than the state does).

d) The real solution to this problem is moving our communities to organic land management. This is what will sustain the soil (the earth) and provide for long-term healthy ecosystems and associated wildlife populations. Pesticides have failed us. Let’s get off that merry-go-round!

Mary Wilson

Pollinator Pathway Steering Committee

Protect Our Pollinators founding member

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